In the summer of 2011, Jessica Davis ’14 was in the middle of Africa on the back of a safari truck, sitting next to a rhinoceros she had just sedated. The transport could have been due to the animal needing to be dehorned to protect it from poachers. Maybe it was because another preserve requested more rhinos. Or maybe, the animal was just sick.
Regardless of the reason, Davis spent one month in Africa trying to protect African wildlife. At the time, she wanted to study wildlife medicine.
But, on her plane ride home, Davis realized she wanted to do more. She recognized the animals she wanted to protect were suffering because of social, environmental and political policies she had no control over.
“I realized I wanted to be the ultimate solution to the problem. I wanted to know why was the first domino even tipped? I don’t want to be these animals’ last line of defense, and that’s what I was in Africa. I want to be their first,” Davis said.
When she arrived back at home in Indianapolis, she knew sustainability was really the solution she was looking for. She went on to receive her master’s in biology from UD with a concentration in ecology.
“Sustainability is not my job. It is my ethos,” she said. “It permeates every decision I make.”
In 2015, Davis became the director of sustainability at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where she teaches sustainability courses, handles operational sustainability and engages the campus and Indianapolis community.
Her interests include ecology, sustainability, environmental policy, and restoration of the human-nature relationship.
“The reason I am passionate about this is because I view sustainability as an intergenerational obligation. What we do today will have a big impact on those that come after us. If we do not change our trajectory now, future generations will be forced to bear the cost of today’s decision,” she said.